There are those who attach prohibition to a political colour. That makes no sense, and it turns out that it is as wrong as saying that cancer only occurs in leftist or rightist types.

Prohibition has nothing to do with political convictions: it is as transverse as the black plague was. It is a diseased state of mind that equally applies to the extremes and to the middle. It is an emotional condition. It is, infallibly, the reaction of the inadequate.

Here is an example, if one is needed. The very first act of London’s new Conservative mayor, Boris Johnson, has been to declare a ban on drinking alcohol anywhere on the public transport system. Johnson “wants his booze ban to demonstrate that he will be tough on anti-social behaviour and singular in his determination to restore respect, good manners and possibly cap-doffing to the streets of London.”

Short of directly, physically and demonstrably hurting people, today an anti-social behaviour has become the pet peeve of the bigot(s) sitting on the chairs of power, of course. Superficially, that may even be laudable. It is just as when we hear that “the duty of the public health authorities is to make sure that anyone is as healthy as he can be”: it makes perfect sense, and only a fool would disagree.

Careful with what you agree with, though, because that’s the trap.

Mechanisms that allow “authorities” to use power for the “protection” of citizens were given a blank cheque, and they are not accountable to any democratic mechanism. In short, they cannot be stopped. For example, long ago “public health” authorities were given powers to defeat the infectious diseases that were scourging cities and countries. Those powers were practically unlimited and, given the emergency of certain situations, they were perfectly justified. But no mechanism was in place to take them back once the emergency was over. So — as it always happens when powers are given to the state — they became permanent, along with the bureaucracies to implement them in the first place.

Two generations later, “public health” promptly abuses those powers, and the “protection” of citizens by the “authorities” now concerns behaviour control and protection from themselves. The inertia and the sloth of the public complicates the situation, so that what was a perfectly acceptable social behaviour just yesterday suddenly becomes “anti-social” today. Denormalization and criminalization of normal cultural traits is usually implemented through “public health” structures because they were originally designed to bypass the democratic system for speed and effectiveness. There was no need for public opinion approval to restrict the movements of active TB patients; why then should there be consent for restricting those of smokers or drinkers? Just label those habits “diseases”!

“Public health” and other “authorities” have unilaterally extended their mandates to become regulators of “moral public health too” in times when previously restricted behaviours are totally liberalized, such as pornography, or ostentatious display of flaming homosexuality. It follows that, according to Johnson’s “logic”, a man displaying himself drinking on a bus breaks the law, but if he engages another man in a passionate public kiss on the same bus, that is just fine.

With hind sight, all that was necessary to prevent power abuse by “authorities” would have been to establish that their powers were limited to emergencies and to the spreading of infectious diseases. If that had been done then, today we would not have smoking bans, and all the other bans that we are and we will be experiencing at a incredible rate of acceleration.

Once again, it all goes back to the fundamentals. You cannot have a machine that can kill you just because you trust the current operator not to do so. You must have a machine that cannot kill you even when the operator wants to do so — that’s real safety.

Socially speaking, and considering the abuse of power of bureaucracy and institutions, it is high time to go back to the drawing board and revolutionize the institutions before a bloody revolution may become necessary to take them down.



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